Free While Constrained: Side-Bent, Stepping Down (Patrons)

Mostly back-lying, some front-lying. Enjoy the rich internal reconfigurations and freedoms that are prompted as you learn how to use your legs and pelvis with ease while your head, spine, ribs, and shoulders are constrained in a gentle side-bent position. Themes of skeletal support and sensing your primary spinal bias are also touched on. The bias is discussed briefly after the lesson.

Before you begin read this for practical tips and your responsibilities, and check out Comfort & Configuration below.

Recorded live in a Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement (ATM) class, this lesson is copyright Nick Strauss-Klein, for personal use only.

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Tip – Complete the Movement

Study tip: Complete one movement before beginning the next. You’ll improve faster if there’s enough time between movements that you feel fully at rest.

Tip 4 – Padding

Study tip: Comfort first! Carpeted floors usually work well, but it’s great to have an extra mat or blanket nearby in case you need a softer surface in some configurations.

Tip 3 – Head Support

Study tip: It helps to have a large bath towel nearby when you start a lesson. You can fold it differently for comfortable head support in any configuration.

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Tip – what to wear

Study tip: Wear loose, comfortable clothes that are warm enough for quiet movement. Remove or avoid anything restrictive like belts or glasses.

Tip 5 – Discomfort

Study tip: If a configuration or movement causes any increase in discomfort, or you feel you just don’t want to do it, don’t! Make it smaller and slower, adapt it, or rest and imagine.

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Tip – LESSS is more

LESSS is more: Light, Easy, Small, Slow, & Smooth movements will ease pains and improve your underlying neuromuscular habits faster than any other kind of movement, no matter who you are or what your training is!

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We offer over 50 free lessons, but this one's just for our Patron-level donors. You can learn about it in the free lesson notes and comments below, but to access the audio you’ll need to join The FP as a Patron. Learn more

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Avoid high-friction mats (like a tacky yoga mat) for this lesson.

Before class started I shared an email from one of the students, which gets mentioned in the lesson. You can find it in the Curiosities tab.

The pelvis is never lifted completely off the ground in this lesson, but around 22:30 I misspoke, saying “as you lift your pelvis.” Your pelvis should stay on the ground and instead roll, as in each of the previous push-foot-and-roll-pelvis movements.

This is a great lesson for reversing all the lefts and rights on subsequent listenings. As you learn to sense and connect with your primary spinal bias it’s a useful experiment to try the other side first.

Right before the recording picks up I read Laura’s email below to the students in the class, with her permission.

Nick, over the coming weeks, as we work on more challenging lessons, could you talk more about the feeling of wanting to “bolt”—either emotionally, physically, mentally? Someone having SI trouble doesn’t feel that different to me from my nervous system feeling agitated, or like I could just fall asleep. It all feels like resistance. Maybe I’m looking for some failsafe way to resist resistance—haha! I know the rewards are there if we stick with it—I’ve learned that over and over in my life. This all feels very much like a metaphor for the lockdown—how people are alternatively agitated, tired, content, disturbed, happy, sad, energized, or not. I guess I could boil it all down to this, and it’s not even a question, but I’m reminded of how important it is to just stick with ourselves, to be present with our discomfort.

I responded in part with this quote from Sam Harris (philosopher, neuroscientist, and meditation teacher), used during the lesson’s opening scan:

Pay attention to your experience without resistance, without a plan, without making an attempt to change it…. Let your mere attention to sensation puncture whatever state you’re in….

This lesson is found in Patrons Monthly, our collection of lessons exclusively for Feldenkrais Project Patron-level donors, with one or more new lessons added every month. It’s also in our Free While Constrained Deep Dive.

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